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Two years off after undergrad - Same lab or NIH?

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-quenton-

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Hi all,

I'm taking 2 years off between undergrad and MD-PhD programs. I've been offered a paid research position in my current lab for these 2 years. During this time, I would be working on an independent research project that is different from the research I did in undergrad. Alternatively, I've been offered an NIH postbac position for the two years. I'd also be able to work on an independent project and I'd be able to experience a new lab and a new PI.

I have a decent chance at getting my undergrad work published as a first author, and this chance is probably better if I stay where I currently am. However, would it be beneficial to go to another institution for this period of time and risk not publishing (though I'd try my best)? The reward for going to the NIH would be potentially publishing twice in different labs, which may help demonstrate my research skills.

Any thoughts or suggestions?

Thanks!
 

GABAdabadooo

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I would recommend taking the risk and joining the NIH lab. Assuming the PI is productive, you should have no problem getting a pub within 2 years. If nothing else, you'll get a solid LOR and extend your network, which honestly will carry more weight than pubs during interviews. Plus any NIH affiliated program is cv gold. I had a friend who did the NIH postbac and had great success.


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-quenton-

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I would recommend taking the risk and joining the NIH lab. Assuming the PI is productive, you should have no problem getting a pub within 2 years. If nothing else, you'll get a solid LOR and extend your network, which honestly will carry more weight than pubs during interviews. Plus any NIH affiliated program is cv gold. I had a friend who did the NIH postbac and had great success.


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If it carries any weight, I'd be able to get another LOR regardless of where I am. If I stay in my lab, I'd be working with an MD-PhD, different from my undergrad PI.

Also, I mentioned that I'd be working on a different project, but how important is working in multiple research areas? My current work is on cardiac image processing. If I stay here, I'd be doing cardiac computational modeling. If I go to the NIH, I'd be working on cancer research.

Thanks again!
 

GABAdabadooo

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Have you taken the MCAT yet? Are you self funding your MD PhD apps? Is there any cost benefit to staying at your home institution? I still think the NIH is worth it unless there is some reason you prefer staying in your current lab.
I don't believe diversity of research experience is that big a deal. It's more about having multiple PIs going to bat for you. It displays consistency in your ability to succeed in different environments.
I've only recently been accepted to programs though so my thoughts are just based on my own experience.


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GABAdabadooo

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For me, I had pubs from labs at different institutions. During my interviews I was told this was a strength, as it showed adaptability. Not to say that you couldn't demonstrate this by working on a different project in your current lab.


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